Fortuna makes unexpected PBA return, reunion with former coach
It was a bad start to what should’ve been a sappy reunion as Jeric Fortuna’s first game back with Pido Jarencio got off on a wrong note.
Playing in his first professional basketball game after almost three years, Fortuna’s return in the PBA ended in disappointment after Magnolia blasted NorthPort, 104-87,in the Governors’ Cup Saturday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Fortuna was out of the basketball circuit for two-and-a-half years as he went to pilot school but the urge to play professional ball got him and he knew he could count on Jarencio, his college coach at University of Santo Tomas, to give him a break.
“I texted coach Pido that went like ‘coach can I at least practice with your team?’ And I didn’t expect anything,” said Fortuna in Filipino. “They didn’t promise me anything, it just so happened that the team was depleted so I was put into the lineup.”
The Batang Pier, who’s already missing star point guard Stanley Pringle due to the Asian Games, lost two members of its backcourt when Nico Elorde and Jeric Teng, a teammate of Fortuna with the Growling Tigers, went down with an injury.
In just a matter of days, Fortuna found himself playing in the league once more.
Fortuna’s last team in the PBA, coincidentally, was NorthPort, which was then known as Globalport, in 2016 before he played with Alab Pilipinas in the ASEAN Basketball League from 2016 to 2017.
This absence from playing professional basketball left Fortuna winded. He did admit that he was not in peak shape, but he was able to put up two points, four rebounds, and four assists in 21 minutes of play.
“It’s fun because I missed playing basketball,” said Fortuna. “I’m not in game shape and I gassed out in the second half.”
Fortuna added that he’s schooling to become a pilot was temporary put on hold but he said there’s no problem with that as students are allowed to finish their program in their own pace.
“I can come back to school any time I want,” said Fortuna.